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Soldier's Death, Germany

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 24 April 1951

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asked the Secretary of State for War under what circumstances Trooper Lloyd was killed at Rintel, Germany; and whether he will make a statement.

Trooper Lloyd was killed in a traffic accident on 9th April, 1951, the lorry in which he was travelling as a passenger skidding and plunging down an embankment when returning in convoy from an exercise in Rhine Zealand. I am awaiting the proceedings of the court of inquiry which has been held.

16 and 17.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) why his Department refused to bring home the body of Trooper Lloyd for burial in Cardiff despite the appeal of his widowed mother; and whether he is aware that Mrs. Lloyd was informed that the body could be returned if she bore the cost;

(2) whether his Department will reduce the proportion of cost to be found by parents who desire the return of the body of their soldier sons killed on foreign service in peace time.

The policy followed by my Department is that interment of soldiers killed on foreign service in peace as in war should take place in the country where death occurs and I regret that the Department is unable to bear the cost of bringing bodies to this country for burial. Efforts have, however, been made to reduce the cost of transport in cases where relatives make these arrangements at their own expense and as announced by my predecessor on 26th July, 1949, the Railway Executive has agreed to reduce by half the sea freight charge for the conveyance of soldiers' bodies from the Hook of Holland to Harwich.

Is the Minister aware that the present policy means that parents who are unable to provide the best part of £100 are unable to bring home their son's body, whereas the wealthier person has no difficulty whatsoever, and will he look again at this matter with a view to the War Office bearing the cost?

I appreciate the point raised by my hon. Friend, but I think the only remedy would be that all these costs should be made a public charge. I think that would really be impossible.

As the numbers are extremely small at the present time, could not the right hon. Gentleman come to some arrangement with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air to convey these bodies back to this country by Transport Command? It would be quite a simple matter.

Will the Minister look again at the matter in the light of the fact that the cost to the State would be very small, and that he is dealing with conscripts who certainly did not ask to be sent abroad? Surely, the least he can do is to see that their bodies are brought home?

On a point of order. In view of the lack of humanity on the part of the Government, I beg to give notice that I propose to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the first opportunity.